Veterinarian and Entrepreneur Turnera Croom Uses STEM to Introduce Kids to Animal Science

BY SERGIE WILLOUGHBY

Dr. Turnera CroomWhat is the common denominator in STEM and Animal Science? Dr. Turnera Croom, founder and CEO of Vets In 3D, retired Army Veterinary Corps Major, veterinarian, and self-taught 3D printing expert, can answer that. Croom, who studied at Tuskegee University?s College of Veterinary Medicine, is passionate about? highlighting the different facets of her field, so much so that she?s even launched a pilot program, to take place on March 31, designed to introduce students to the STEM careers involved with Veterinary medicine and 3D printing.

Here, Croom, who is based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, tells TNJ.com about her work.

TNJ.com: How did you develop an interest in veterinary medicine??

Turnera Croom: My interest in veterinary medicine was stoked by my two teacher parents. My father, James Croom was a middle school science teacher and he brought home cool animals all the time. I most strongly remember baby chicks and some really cute chameleons. This propelled me to start saving box turtles as they crossed the street and rehabilitating wounded animals.

TNJ.com: What is the connection you?ve found between Animal Science and STEM?

T.C.: Animal Science allows me to enjoy a career where I can interact with animals as much or little as I want and it is still science. I could be on one end of the spectrum as a Small animal Veterinarian, who touches animals all day and loves it. Or the opposite end, which might be a researcher who studies rainfall patterns associated with wildlife dehydration. It may never touch an animal, but the research benefits the animals in the end. That’s Animal Science. That’s Science – the S in STEM.

TNJ.com: Tell me a bit about your company Vets in 3D. What was the inspiration behind it?

T.C.: The inspiration behind Vets In 3D is entrepreneurial in nature. Even as a full time veterinarian, I still wanted more on the small business side. I decided to teach myself a new technology (new to me–of course 3D printing has been around for decades) and that turned out to be 3D printing and 3D scanning. Once I realized that medical fields, including Vet Med were using this 3D technology in their work, it solidified a way for me to combine the veterinary medicine and 3D printed items.

TNJ.com: Tell me a bit about your upcoming event ?Pooches and 3D Printing.? Is it a one-time event or is this something you plan to do every year?

T.C.: I’ve called ‘Pooches & 3D Printing’ an annual event, but because of the tremendous interest, I may try to host a Vets In 3D event each quarter. This STEM event is an opportunity for kids in Kalamazoo, MI to observe a real veterinarian up close performing tasks on live animals. Some of the students will be called up as ‘Veterinary Assistants’ and everyone will learn about the variety of ways to be a Veterinarian. The 3D printer will be extruding small animals items for the kids–the same animals we’ll be discussing. When they leave with their 3D printed animal prize, the students will?be able to confidently drop some Animal Science knowledge to their friends and family.

TNJ.com: There?s a lot of talk about professionals of all kinds getting kids to see the cool factor in STEM. What do you tell kids about Animal Science and STEM?

T.C.: It’s cool enough to be a Veterinarian, because a lot of kids respect the profession. But once I combine live animals with newer technology like 3D scanning, the kids can’t get enough! At this event, I will be demonstrating VET SCAN, which is our new program using a 3D scanner to scan people’s pet, and then subsequently 3D print those pets into figurines. A definite cool factor there!